Urijah Faber has been by far one of the best mixed martial artists in the world over the past 10 years.
His dedication to the sport and to his training has consequently rewarded him with an accomplished and extremely lucrative career.
But on the heels of yet another title defeat at UFC 169 to champion Renan Barao, "The California Kid" has been sent back down the ladder to face an opponent outside of the division's top 10, No. 13 Alex Caceres.
ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto confirmed Wednesday that the two bantamweights will do battle on July 5 in Las Vegas, as part of a card headlined by Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida for the UFC middleweight title.
Now while this matchup should come as a surprise to many considering each fighter's position on the divisional ladder, it makes complete sense for the UFC.
On one hand you have Faber, a guy who has done everything he's needed to do to reach ultimate glory but just hasn't been able to win the big one.
On the other hand you have Caceres, a 25-year-old top prospect who has racked off four straight victories over the past two years (albeit for a no-contest back in March of 2013).
By scheduling this bout—which has solid potential to offer great exchanges—the promotion is essentially trying to push a personality like Caceres to the front of line, while giving Faber a respectable rebound opponent in effort to re-solidify his title hopes.
Also, putting a household name like Faber on a huge card that is UFC 175 will only allow a new champion like Weidman to achieve more and more pay-per-view exposure.
It's a win-win scenario for a matchmaker like Joe Silva, but it's understandable that Faber fans might feel slighted.
This is a guy whose seven career loses (30-7) have all been title fights in some way, shape or form. He isn't exactly the type of fighter you would peg as a "gatekeeper."
But a loss is a loss and Faber needs to earn his keep once again.
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